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Mayor Walsh State of the City Speech 2015 – Education and Special Education Issues

My plan for Boston’s future begins in our schools—all of our schools. We’ve talked about fixing our schools for decades. Now, we’re taking action.

2030 may seem a long way off. But consider this: the little girl who signed up for pre-school this week will be a high school graduate in 2030. Her life will tell a story of Boston’s 21st century. So a Boston that is thriving, healthy, and innovative

in its fifth century depends greatly on what we do for her right now.

Yes, we have some progress to celebrate—maybe more than other big cities. But families with school-age kids aren’t celebrating. A lot of the time they see a great school—quite literally—as a prize in a lottery.

Think about that. In the city that established public education; a city with the greatest universities in the world; access to an excellent public school is seen as a lucky break. Meanwhile, more than 30% of our high school students don’t graduate in 5 years. That is just not acceptable.

Next month, I will get the names of the final candidates for the next superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. Whomever is selected for this job, my message and orders will be clear: I am not satisfied. The Boston Public Schools can do much better for our kids. We have to do better. We will do better.

My administration is moving forward.

We are working with the BTU to ratify a plan to add 40 minutes of quality learning time–every day, for every student through 8th grade.

We are expanding high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten, with the goal of reaching every 4-year-old in the city.

We are re-designing our high schools around pathways to college and career. We tripled the size of the Success Boston college completion program. And tonight I’m excited to announce a new partnership with the global software company SAP to create a high-tech career pipeline from Charlestown High School to Bunker Hill Community College.

We’ve revamped the Boston School Committee: by appointing an early learning specialist and a special ed advocate; and two members who are parents of kids in our Boston Public Schools.

And there’s still more to come. When I talk about building great schools—I mean it literally. Too many of Boston’s aging schools don’t meet the standards of 21st-century learning—or come anywhere close. So we are going to establish the city’s first permanent school building program in many decades. We’re drafting a 10-year Facilities Plan, to identify the needs in every neighborhood. And we’re creating a Boston School Building Authority, to tap the funding sources our city has failed to secure in the past.

We began last year with a new STEM Academy for Roxbury. Our next projects will be Fenway’s Boston Arts Academy and Quincy Upper School in Chinatown. I want to thank the parent councils at these schools. After enduring years of false starts, their dedication will pay off now, and for generations to come.

Finally, we know the opportunity gap begins outside the classroom. So our new Office of Financial Empowerment will launch a free child savings account program. Research shows that it’s a building-block of opportunity.

To recap: that’s a strong start; a full day’s school; real pathways to college and career; a permanent building program; and a commitment to fighting poverty. And I’m just getting started. We will not be satisfied with anything short of success: for every child in every family, at every school in every community in our city.

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